WELCOME TO OPACC!
The Robertson Family (Waterloo)
Ontario Parents Advocating for Children with Cancer (OPACC) is a registered charity whose mission, since our establishment in 1995, has been to be the parent voice for families with children diagnosed with cancer across the Province of Ontario.
Vision Statement: OPACC will be the leading voice and expert resource for families and organizations navigating the childhood cancer journey.
How does OPACC support families?
Our three pillars of support are:
I. In-hospital and virtual peer-to-peer support through our Parent Liaison program
II. Community support through community-based parent support groups
We also support advocacy efforts to empower parents to advocate for themselves and to advocate for all families on a wider Provincial level, including: E.I. legislation for benefits to Parents of Critically Ill Children, reduced hospital parking rates, representation for childhood cancer survivors, supporting the educational needs of children with cancer, raising awareness of childhood cancer and of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month (September), providing the caregiver voice to the pediatric oncology drug approval process, and more!
We often partner with generous community organizations, businesses, and individuals to provide special experiences and donated items to our families.
Who are your members?
OPACC is comprised of parents, guardians, survivors, and close relatives of children and teens diagnosed with childhood cancer. Although 50% of our membership is from the Greater Toronto Area, we are a Provincial organization and our members can be found all over Ontario. We also have some families from seven other Canadian Provinces and even other countries who are in Ontario for their child's treatment!
How many families have you helped?
To date, over 1,000 families have been supported through OPACC!
What special considerations does taking care of a child with cancer involve?
Taking care of a child with cancer is very different from taking care of an adult with cancer. Here are some points to consider:
Children need 24/7 care. Adults can often take care of themselves for a portion of the time
Loss of one full income
Having to make life-threatening decisions about the treatment of your child, who often cannot make such decisions for themselves
Double-whammy for grandparents who witness the suffering of their "baby's baby"
Neglect of siblings
Trauma to other children (i.e. friends, schoolmates) who don't understand what's happening
Childhood cancer causes immense emotional and financial upheaval in affected families, with effects lasting long after treatment is complete - irrespective of outcome - through post-traumatic stress on both the child and the parents, financial consequences such as loss of employment, debt, and bankruptcy, and long-term side effects that can last the rest of their lives. Read some informative stats on childhood cancer here.
How are you different than other childhood cancer charities?
OPACC is different because we support parents (and families) of children with cancer! While children with cancer deservedly have access to an impressive support network of healthcare professionals, friends and family, and charitable organizations focused on making them better and improving their quality of life, parents are often the "forgotten patient" and experience a high level of stress while juggling the demands of caring for their sick child as well as for the rest of the family and work. A diagnosis of childhood cancer is devastating in its impact to the entire family, as they experience fear, anxiety, and frequently face financial hardships. OPACC believes in the value of providing parent support and that strong families start with strong parent support.
How are you funded?
OPACC is an independent registered charity; while we often partner with other organizations to provide services to our families, our programs are managed separately. OPACC receives no government funding and all funding for the development of our programs, services and special events (which are provided at no cost to our families) comes from the donations of generous organizations, businesses, foundations, and individuals.
Are you part of the hospitals?
Although closely integrated within the hospitals through our Parent Liaison program, OPACC is an organization operating and funded separately from the hospitals we work out of. The hospitals do not provide funding to OPACC.
Why do you spend so much on administration and salaries?
As you can see here in this chart from the CRA, the majority of our spending goes to charitable programs, which does include compensating our Parent Liaison staff. At OPACC, our Parent Liaisons ARE the program. Without having this tight-knit team of trained and experienced childhood cancer parents on board, we wouldn't have our signature Parent Liaison program. Unlike other organizations, we do not offer a lot of tangible giveaways, financial assistance, or special events. What we DO offer is a people-powered service of valuable peer-to-peer, psychosocial support by staff whose time and duties are 100% dedicated to the program. Naturally, a large part of our expenses goes to fairly and competitively compensating this small team of three Parent Liaisons and one Administrator that keep OPACC going. That being said, we have designed our approach to be scalable and can adjust staffing and other related expense requirements with the levels of funding secured.
Read and share the presentation below to learn more about our work and how you can help!